'Im-material Siberia' is a montage of images of materiality and immateriality linked to the global political economy of Siberia. Shot on the trans-Siberian train in September 2005, the raw material presented is a seemingly never-ending freight train moving from east to west delivering commodities such as crude oil and wood. The continuous movement of these raw, industrial commodities is interrupted by a range of immaterial imagery that connects the exploitation of Siberian natural resources to the management of the global political economy. Contemporary politico-economic strategies are characterized by a gap: On one hand, global management increasingly relies on an immaterial discourse of sustainability and corporate social responsibility, which is proliferated by way of multi-million dollar marketing campaigns that create a green brand image for multinational corporations particularly suited to ethically conscious western consumers. On the other hand, Russian political economy unmistakably positions itself as the new powerhouse of raw, dirty commodities supplying the west with much needed real materialities that enable the continuous growth of immaterial empires. The montage of 'Im-material Siberia' explores the antagonisms created by the confrontation of these im-materialities. Its target is to both expose the hypocritical and false brand imagery of 'green' western super-corporations and point to the ecological and political dangers involved with the production of the material realities of the global economy. 'Im-material Siberia' is/was exhibited at the Trans-Siberia event at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki in April and May 2006 (http://typo.kiasma.fi/index.php?id=453&L=1&FL=1).
Steffen Böhm's work touches at the boundaries of academia, art and activism. He has co-organised conferences and events on themes such as sound and silence, literature and organisation, art and organisation, and automobility all of which have been explorations of the possibilities of what can be called 'academic art activism'. In 2005 he co-organised the conference 'Capturing the Moving Mind', which brought together an eclectic international cohort of academics, artists and activists on the trans-Siberian train investigating and experiencing contemporary critiques of management, war and new forms of organising. Steffen is currently part of an international research project into the organisation and politics of alternative media. Here again research is not simply seen as an academic enquiry, but indeed as artistic and activist practice that actively engages alternative media organisations. He himself has been involved in various alternative publishing initiatives: he is co-founder and member of the editorial collective of the independent journal 'ephemera: theory & politics in organization' (http://www.ephemeraweb.org) and co-founder and co-editor of the independent press 'mayflybooks' (http://www.mayflybooks.org).
Steffen teaches and researches critical approaches to organisation and management studies at the University of Essex, UK. Engaging with contemporary critiques of global capitalism, he is interested in exposing the social, ecological, political, ethical and cultural limits of capitalist organising. His doctoral thesis was an investigation of the politics of organisation, exploring the organisational and political challenges faced by the global anti-capitalist movement. He is involved with the movement in particular through the social forum process and has been organising a number of Radical Theory Forum events at various European Social Forums as well as anti-G8 summits in recent years. His work has appeared in journals such as Mute, The Anomalist, Signs of the Times, ephemera, Tamara and Framework. He has published one book, Repositioning Organization Theory (Palgrave, 2006), and co-edited Against Automobility (Blackwell), which is forthcoming at the end of 2006. Many of his publications explore the possibilities of new ways of presentation. Inspired by Walter Benjamin's writing techniques, he has experimented with montages mixing both textual and photographic imagery. Steffen's montage 'Im-material Siberia' is his first attempt to extend this technique into the video medium. He can be contacted at steffen(at)essex.ac.uk.